Over the past weeks and months, like many of you, I have been angry and grieving over the violence against the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community — my community.
I have talked with BART General Manager Bob Powers and BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez to discuss BART’s role in rejecting all racially-motivated violence, including violence against the API community, and what BART can do to make sure we are upholding the Safe Transit Policy approved by the board in 2017, which affirms BART’s commitment to make our system “an inviting, equitable, and safe community for everyone who uses our system” and further oppose “hate, violence, and acts of intolerance.”
Some important data points:
- After growing from 29% in 2014 to 31% in 2016 and peaking at 34% in 2018, APIs make up 21% of BART’s current ridership
- 72% of API ridership is satisfied with BART, with matches the overall ridership satisfaction
- Since 2019, there has been a decrease of crimes against APIs recorded by BART police
- 2017: 19.4% of all crimes involved an API victim
- 2018: 24.3%
- 2019: 28.6%
- 2020: 22.4%
- 2021 (year-to-date): 20.4%
- Overall, riders who identify as API do not feel any more or less safe on average compared to overall ridership
Since I was elected to the BART Board in November 2018, I am proud of the following initiatives, which take a compassionate approach to seriously addressing safety on BART without relying on law enforcement or increasing the carceral state.
- Launching BART’s Ambassador Pilot Program staff to increase presence through uniformed, unarmed, civilian ambassadors, which was formalized as a permanent program in October 2020
- Creating a new team of crisis intervention specialists to address issues of homelessness, substance use and behavioral health in the BART system with trained social work professionals
- Expanding elevator attendants to all four downtown San Francisco stations to ensure our elevators are welcoming for our riders, especially seniors, people with disabilities, and parents with strollers
- Requiring staff to report more detailed statistics to the BART Board on “Crimes Against Persons” through the Quarterly Performance Report
While each of these initiatives required significant investment, I absolutely believe that we continue to be on the right path to improving BART. I also recognize there is a lot more to do to make our system more accessible for APIs. Over the coming weeks, I will continue to work with BART staff to make sure our riders who identify as API feel safe riding BART, starting with a board resolution to be brought forward in early April to condemn the violence against the API community.
As the only API member of the current BART Board and the first API woman ever elected to this body, I am committed to continuing to listen to a wide range of voices across the diverse API community. I encourage you to use this as an opportunity to connect with me and share your thoughts about how BART can be a more safe, welcoming public transit system for our region by emailing Janice.Li@bart.gov.